Man gets 18 months for illegal ammo buys

McALLEN — A Mexican citizen, who’s legally in the country on a non-immigrant VISA, will serve 18 months in federal prison for his role in transporting ammunition into Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Carlos Adan Zarazua Zacarias to the low end of a guideline sentence, which would have had him serve up to two years in prison, after hearing from the man’s attorney.

In February, federal agents arrested Zarazua after they observed him purchase large quantities of ammunition at several federally licensed firearm dealers despite not having the proper status to do so.

In May, Zarazua admitted to purchasing more than 4,100 rounds of ammunition consisting of 13 different caliber types, and struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to one count of importing/manufacturing firearms, court records show.

During the sentencing hearing Thursday morning, government prosecutors stated Zarazua, who is in the country on a legal non-immigrant visa, was purchasing the ammunition for his boss in Monterrey, who operated a business that provided military-style training.

Christina Lee Conway-Navarro, a federal public defender, argued that Zarazua, who did admit to purchasing the ammunition, said he showed his identification on every occasion that he did so; and was not told at any time by anyone that what he was doing was illegal.

Crane disagreed, and said Zarazua either knew, or should have known that the ammunition he was purchasing was illegally being sent to his boss in Monterrey — a violation of a federal statute that prohibits the transport of ammunition or firearms into Mexico without a license to do so.

Before the sentence was handed down, Zarazua apologized to the court, the country and his family, some of whom were in attendance for the hearing.

“I’m very ashamed and regretful for what I have done,” Zarazua said before thanking his family and attorney. “This has been very painful for all of us.”

Zarazua again thanked the court and addressed Crane.

“I know I am in your hands and whatever sentence you impose I know it’s the just sentence,” Zarazua said.

Zarazua, who was living and working in the U.S. on a B1/B2 non-immigrant VISA, will have his status revoked and be deported upon completion of his 18-month prison term.